I'm guessing the answer is no here, but wanted to be sure. I would expect that when I get a database object or array using get_results that I still need to add htmlspecialchars() or esc_html() when placing the output in HTML. I did look at the function, but it's not really clear without finding functions that the get_results function uses (and not sure how deep I would need to dig). This question brings up one very small other question. Any reason to use the WordPress function esc_html() over the generic htmlspecialchars()?

1 Answer 1


The answer is: of course they are not - otherwise you couldn’t use them to save them in DB.

But... the answer to your question isn’t so easy.

Sanitizing is a process of preparing data for storing in DB. So for example if you insert some illegal characters in post_name, then it will be removed, so the post_name is sanitized, before saving. If you use color picker in Customizer, then you should sanitize it (checking if it really is a color and not some random string) before saving. And so on.

But sanitized data can still be dangerous. You can use “>” character in title, so title containing it will be sanitized. But of course you can’t print it in HTML of your code.

That’s where escaping joins the game. Escaping is a process of making data from DB secure for HTML code (based on context). Remember that the same title should be escaped in a different way when it’s printed inside tag (then you should use esc_html), than when it’s used as html attribute (you should use esc_attr) and so on.

So yes - you should always sanitize your data before storing it in DB and always use correct way of escaping based on given context.

  • Appreciate that. So it is not escaped in any way when retrieving from the database (that's the part I was mostly interested in).
    – tim92109
    Jun 12, 2018 at 17:30
  • @tim92109 No, it’s not. Jun 12, 2018 at 18:33
  • so how did you made it so that it returns the data as i have saved it? pre-sanitizing ? without itering over every column in every result in my entire project ? Jun 2, 2020 at 19:48

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